Have you noticed? Can you feel it? Change is in the air. Trees are greening, daffodils are blooming, the wind is windy, cows are calving and Snoopy the dog is doing his happy dance.

What. Stop.

What the heck is that form 1040 doing there on my kitchen table harshing my mellow?

Moving on

Although things are starting to bloom and green up, the secret beauty is the contrast with the brown. That’s one of the first things transplants seem to notice after moving to Socorro County. Being on the fringe of the Chihuahua Desert you’ll likely see the color brown as much as green. In perusing the interweb, I ran across a Facebook page called Only In New Mexico. The latest posting is titled “15 Things You Quickly Learn When You Move To New Mexico”; a list of things you can brag (or complain) about to your out-of-town friends. The list includes, of course, chile roasting, as well as dark skies, a unique history, double rainbows and sunsets among others, but the one entry that caught my attention was There Are More Shades of Brown Than You Can Imagine. Even if you can imagine a lot.

Yep. Springtime is here. While Tennyson says it’s when a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, Mark Twain mused that “in the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

If you will indulge me here, in my growing up springtime meant two glorious things: fishing and baseball. Baseball was a game you could play anytime and anywhere you had enough friends to choose teams. You don’t need a concrete court or a hoop like in basketball, and you don’t have to worry about getting your face slammed to the ground like in football.

All you really need is something to serve as a bat and a ball…but a rock will do. And every player gets to do everything, throw, catch, hit, and run; a very democratic game. No wonder it was deemed America’s pastime.

I’m way past my sports fan days, but one thing I found fun about major league baseball is the nicknames for my idols. You had the Sultan of Swat, Hammerin’ Hank, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, Mr. October, and so forth. Then you have personalities like Shoeless Joe Jackson, The Say Hey Kid, “Yogi” Berra, The Georgia Peach, Stan the Man, and Catfish Hunter. These were larger than life to me and are just the ones I can think of off the top of my white-haired baseball cap-wearing head.

Anyhow, high school baseball is underway, and the Isotopes will kick off its season next week in Albuquerque, so batter – as they say – up.

Speaking of the abovementioned catfish, there’s my other spring thing – going fishing. Although I grew up fishing with a cane pole, I was no Opie Taylor, but I did know how to get a worm to stay on the hook and spent many a lazy afternoon as a boy trying to land that elusive big one. Likewise, this Saturday morning Escondida Lake will be ringed by scores of young anglers casting for that big one. They’ll be vying for prizes at the annual youth fishing derby, but more importantly, they’ll just be fishin’ (“fishin’,” by the way, is the correct pronunciation).

Fishin’ was one of those rites of passage when a young’un learns that it goes beyond the assumed purpose of catching supper, in a way. Fishin’ is who you’re fishin’ with. A sociable undertaking best taken with your best pal. Or maybe a family member.

That being said, fishing with family – or even alone – can be good for one’s mental health. As Henry David Thoreau put it: “Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”

At any rate, the community fishing derby Saturday should be a real hoot for all the kids and their families. So put away the fishing apps and secure your spot at Escondida Lake.

One more thing. Yesterday, March 29, was Vietnam Veterans Day. It was exactly 50 years ago that MACV – Military Assistance Command- was deactivated. All Vietnam vets know about MACV; it was where all the big brass who called all the shots were. Pardon the expression.

The VA estimates that there are six million living Vietnam veterans, as well as nine million families of those who served during this time frame, including all who served in-country, in-theater, or who were stationed elsewhere during the Vietnam War period. All were called to serve, and none could self-determine where they would be stationed.

We have several Vietnam vets in Socorro and Magdalena, and I tip my hat to each and all and say, welcome home, brothers.